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LIBRAEY. 

PURCHASED BY THE 

ROBERT H. PRUYN 

LIBRARY FUND 



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EIVERS TO THE SEA 




MISS SARAH TEASDALE, 
To Whom Was Awarded by Columbia 
University the Pulitzer Prize of $500 
for the Best Book of Poetry by an 

American Published in 1917. 



RIVERS TO 
THE SEA 



BY 
SARA TEASDALE 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 
1916 

Aii rights reserved 



Thanks are due to the editors of Harper's^ 
Oentury^ Scribner's^ Poetry^ and other periodicals, 
for their courteous permission to reprint many of 
the following poems. 



CONTENTS 
PAET I 

PAGE 

Spring Night 1 

The Flight 3 

New Love and Old 4 

The Look 5 

Spring . 6 

The Lighted Window . . . . . . 7 

The Kiss ......... 9 

Swans 10 

The Old Maid 11 

From the Woolworth Tower 12 

At Night 16 

The Years » ... 17 

Peace . . . ' 18 

April 19 

Come 20 

Moods 21 

April Song 22 

May Day 23 

Crowned 24 

To a Castilian Song 25 

Broadway 26 

[ix] 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

A Winter Bluejay 27 

In a Restaurant 29 

Joy . 30 

'c^ In a Railroad Station 31 

In the Train 32 

To One Away 33 

Song 34 

Deep in the Night 35 

The India Wharf 36 

I Shall Not Care 38 

Desert Pools 39 

Longing | ... 40 

^PlTY I ... 41 

After Parting I . . .42 

Enough ; . . .43 

Alchemy 44 

February 45 

Morning . . .46 

May Night . ... . . . . .47- 

Dusk in June 48 

-—Love-free 49 

Summer Night, Riverside 50 

In a Subway Station . ' 52 

After Love 53 

Dooryard Roses 54 

A Prayer ......... 55 



[x] 



CONTENTS 
PAET II 

PAGE 

Indian Summer . .59 

The Sea Wind . .61 

The Cloud 62 

The Poor House 63 

New Year's Dawn — Broadway .... 64 

The Star 66 

Doctors . 67 

The Inn of Earth 68 

In the Carpenter's Shop 70 

The Carpenter's Son 72 

The Mother of a Poet 77 

In Memoriam F. 0. S 82 

Twilight 83 

Swallow Flight 84 

Thoughts 85 

To Dick, on His Sixth Birthday .... 86 

To Rose 88 

The Fountain 90 

The Rose . .92 

Dreams 93 

"I Am Not Yours" 94 

Pierrot's Song 95 

Night in Arizona 96 

Dusk in War Time 97 

Spring in War Time 98 

While I May 100 

Debt 101 

[xi] 



CONTENTS 

PAes 

From the North 102 

The Lights of New York ..... 103 

Sea Longing '. . . 104 

The River 105 

Leaves 106 

The Answer * . 107 

PAET III 

Over the Roofs Ill 

A Cry 114 

Chance 115 

Immortal 116 

After Death 117 

Testament 118 

Gifts 119 

PART IV 

From the Sea 123 

Vignettes Overseas 128 

PART V 

Sappho 137 



[xii] 



KIVERS TO THE SEA 

SPRING NIGHT 

The park is filled with night and fog, 
The veils are drawn about the world, 

The drowsy lights along the paths 
Are dim and pearled. 

Gold and gleaming the empty streets. 
Gold and gleaming the misty lake, 

The mirrored lights like sunken swords, 
Glimmer and shake. 

Oh, is it not enough to be 

Here with this beauty over me ? 

My throat should ache with praise, and I 

Should kneel in joy beneath the sky. 

Oh, beauty are you not enough ? 

[1] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Why am I crying after love 

With youth, a singing voice and eyes 

To take earth's wonder with surprise ? 

Why have I put off my pride, 

Why am I unsatisfied, 

I for whom the pensive night 

Binds her cloudy hair with light, 

I for whom all beauty burns 

Like incense in a million urns ? 

Oh, beauty, are you not enough ? 

Why am I crying after love ? 



[2] 



■A 



THE FLIGHT 

Look back with longing eyes and know that I will 

follow, 
Lift me up in your love as a light w^ind lifts a sw-allow, 
Let our flight be far in sun or windy rain — 
But what if I heard my first love calling me again? 

Hold me on your heart as the brave sea holds the 

foam, 
Take me far away to the hills that hide your home ; 
Peace shall thatch the roof and love shall latch the 

door — 
But what if I heard my first love calling me once moref 



[3] 



v 



NEW LOVE AND OLD 

In my heart the old love 
Struggled with the new ; 

It was ghostly waking 
All night thru. 

Dear things, kind things, 
That my old love said. 

Ranged themselves reproachfully 
Round my bed. 

But I could not heed them, 

For I seemed to see 
The eyes of my new love 

Fixed on me. 

Old love, old love, 

How can I be true ? 
Shall I be faithless to myself 

Or to you ? 

[4] 



THE LOOK 

Strephon kissed me in the spring, 

Robin in the fall, 
But Colin only looked at me 

And never kissed at all. 

Strephon's kiss was lost in jest, 

Robin's lost in play, 
But the kiss in Colin' s eyes 

Haunts me night and day. 



[5] 



SPRING 

In Central Park the lovers sit, 
On every hilly path they stroll. 

Each thinks his love is infinite, 
And crowns his soul. 

But we are cynical and wise, 
We walk a careful foot apart. 

You make a little joke that tries 
To hide your heart. 

Give over, we have laughed enough; 

Oh dearest and most foolish friend. 
Why do you wage a war with love 

To lose your battle in the end? 



6] 



THE LIGHTED WINDOW 

He said: 

"In the winter dusk 

When the pavements were gleaming with rain, 

I walked thru a dingy street 

Hurried, harassed, 

Thinking of all my problems that never are 

solved. 
Suddenly out of the mist, a flaring gas-jet 
Shone from a huddled shop. 
I saw thru the bleary window 
A mass of playthings: 
False-faces hung on strings, 
Valentines, paper and tinsel, 
Tops of scarlet and green. 
Candy, marbles, jacks — 
A confusion of color 
Pathetically gaudy and cheap. 
All of my boyhood 

[7] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Rushed back. 

Once more these things were treasures 

Wildly desired. 

With covetous eyes I looked again at the marbles, 

The precious agates, the pee-wees, the chinies — 

Then I passed on. 

In the winter dusk, 

The pavements were gleaming with rain; 

There in the lighted window 

I left my boyhood." 



[8] 



THE KISS 

Before you kissed me only winds of heaven 

Had kissed me, and the tenderness of rain — 
Now you have come, how can I care for kisses 
Like theirs again? 

I sought the sea, she sent her winds to meet me, 

They surged about me singing of the south — 
I turned my head away to keep still holy 
Your kiss upon my mouth. 

And swift sweet rains of shining April weather 
Found not my lips where living kisses are; 
I bowed my head lest they put out my glory 
As rain puts out a star. 

I am my lovers and he is mine forever, 

Sealed with a seal and safe forevermore — 
Think you that I could let a beggar enter 
Where a king stood before? 
[91 - 



SWANS 

Night is over the park, and a few brave stars 
Look on the lights that Hnk it with chains of 
gold, 
The lake bears up their reflection in broken bars 
That seem too heavy for tremulous water to 
hold. 

We watch the swans that sleep in a shadowy- 
place, 
And now and again one wakes and uplifts its 
head; 
How still you are — your gaze is on my face — 
We watch the swans and never a word is said. 



10] 



THE OLD MAID 

I SAW her in a Broadway car, 
The woman I might grow to be; 

I felt my lover look at her 

And then turn suddenly to me. 

Her hair was dull and drew no light 
And yet its color was as mine; 

Her eyes were strangely like my eyes 
Tho' love had never made them shine. 

Her body was a thing grown thin, 
Hungry for love that never came; 

Her soul was frozen in the dark 
Unwarmed forever by love's flame. 

I felt my lover look at her 

And then turn suddenly to me, — 

His eyes were magic to defy 
The woman I shall never be. 
[11] 



FROM THE WOOLWORTH TOWER 

Vivid with love, eager for greater beauty 

Out of the night we come 

Into the corridor, brilliant and warm. 

A metal door slides open. 

And the lift receives us. 

Swiftly, with sharp unswerving flight 

The car shoots upward. 

And the air, swirling and angry, 

Howls like a hundred devils. 

Past the maze of trim bronze doors, 

Steadily we ascend. 

I cling to you 

Conscious of the chasm under us. 

And a terrible whirring deafens my ears. 

The flight is ended. 

We pass thru a door leading onto the ledge - 

[12] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Wind, night and space ! 

Oh terrible height 

Why have we sought you? 

Oh bitter wind with icy invisible wings 

Why do you beat us? 

Why would you bear us away? 

We look thru the miles of air, 

The cold blue miles between us and the city, 

Over the edge of eternity we look 

On all the lights, 

A thousand times more numerous than the stars; 

Oh lines and loops of light in unwound chains 

That mark for miles and miles 

The vast black mazy cobweb of the streets; 

Near us clusters and splashes of living gold 

That change far 9ff to bluish steel 

Where the fragile lights on the Jersey shore 

Tremble like drops of wind-stirred dew. 

The strident noises of the city 

Floating up to us 

[13] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Are hallowed into whispers. 
Ferries cross thru the darkness 
Weaving a golden thread into the night, 
Their whistles weird shadows of sound. 

We feel the millions of humanity beneath us, — 
The warm millions, moving under the roofs, 
Consumed by their own desires; 
Preparing food. 
Sobbing alone in a garret, 
With burning eyes bending over a needle, 
Aimlessly reading the evening paper. 
Dancing in the naked light of the cafe. 
Laying out the dead. 
Bringing a child to birth — 

The sorrow, the torpor, the bitterness, the frail joy 
Come up to us 

Like a cold fog wrapping us round. 
Oh in a hundred years 
Not one of these blood-warm bodies 
[14 1 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

But will be worthless as clay. 

The anguish, the torpor, the toil 

Will have passed to other millions 

Consumed by the same desires. 

Ages will come and go, 

Darkness will blot the lights 

And the tower will be laid on the earth. 

The sea will remain 

Black and unchanging. 

The stars will look down 

Brilliant and unconcerned. 

Beloved, 

Tho' sorrow, futility, defeat 

Surround us, 

They cannot bear us down. 

Here on the abyss of eternity 

Love has crowned us 

For a moment 

Victors. 

[15] 



AT NIGHT 

We are apart; the city grows quiet between us, 
She hushes herself, for midnight makes heavy 
her eyes. 
The tangle of traffic is ended, the cars are empty. 
Five streets divide us, and on them the moon- 
light lies. 

Oh are you asleep, or lying awake, my lover? 
Open your dreams to my love and your heart 
to my words, 
I send you my thoughts — the air between us is 
laden. 
My thoughts fly in at your window, a flock of 
wild birds. 



[16] 



THE YEARS 

To-night I close my eyes and see 
A strange procession passing me — 
The years before I saw your face 
Go by me with a wistful grace; 
They pass, the sensitive shy years, 
As one who strives to dance, half blind 
with tears. 

The years went by and never knew 
That each one brought me nearer you; 
Their path was narrow and apart 
And yet it led me to your heart — 
Oh sensitive shy years, oh lonely years, 
That strove to sing with voices drowned 
in tears. 



17 





PEACE 

Peace flows into me 

As the tide to the pool by the 
shore ; 

It is mine forevermore, 
It ebbs not back hke the sea. 

I am the pool of blue 

That worships the vivid sky; 

My hopes were heaven-high, 
They are all fulfilled in you. 

I am the pool of gold 

When sunset bums and dies, — 
You are my deepening skies. 

Give me your stars to hold. 



18 



APRIL 

The roofs are shining from the rain, 
The sparrows twitter as they fly, 

And with a windy April grace 
The little clouds go by. 

Yet the back-yards are bare and brown 
With only one unchanging tree — 

I could not be so sure of Spring 
Save that it sings in me. 



[19] 



COME 

Come, when the pale moon like a petal 
Floats in the pearly dusk of spring, 

Come with arms outstretched to take me, 
Come with lips pursed up to cling. 

Come, for life is a frail moth flying 

Caught in the web of the years that pass, 

And soon we two, so warm and eager 
Will be as the gray stones in the grass. 



[20 



MOODS 



<> 



I AM the still rain falling, 

Too tired for singing mirth — 

Oh, be the green fields calling. 
Oh, be for me the earth ! 

I am the brown bird pining 
To leave the nest and fly — 

Oh, be the fresh cloud shining. 
Oh, be for me the sky ! 



[21] 



APRIL SONG 

Willow in your April gown 

Delicate and gleaming, 
Do you mind in years gone by 
d All my dreaming? 

Spring was like a call to me 
That I could not answer, 

I was chained to loneliness, 
I, the dancer. 

Willow, twinkling in the sun, 
Still your leaves and hear me, 

I can answer spring at last, 
Love is near me ! 



22] 



MAY DAY 

The shining line of motors, 
The swaying motor-bus, 

The prancing dancing horses 
Are passing by for us. 

The sunHght on the steeple, 
The toys we stop to see, 

The smiling passing people 
Are all for you and me. 

"I love you and I love you !" - 
"And oh, I love you, too!"- 

"All of the flower girl's lilies 
Were only grown for you ! " 

Fifth Avenue and April 
And love and lack of care — 

The world is mad with music 
Too beautiful to bear. 
[23] 



^ CROWNED ^ 



I WEAK a crown invisible and clear, 
And go my lifted royal way apart 

iSince you have crowned me softly in your 

d 

heart 

With love that is half ardent, half austere; 

And as a queen disguised might pass anear 

The bitter crowd that barters in a mart, 

Veiling her pride while tears of pity start, 

I hide my glory thru a jealous fear. 

My crown shall stay a sweet and secret thing 

Kept pure with prayer at evensong and 

morn. 

And when you come to take it from my 

head, 

I shall not weep, nor will a word be said, 

But I shall kneel before you, oh my king, 

And bind my brow forever with a thorn. 



24 



TO A CASTILIAN SONG 

We held the book together timidly, 
Whose antique music in an alien tongue 
Once rose among the dew-drenched vines that 
hung 
Beneath a high Castihan balcony. 
I felt the lute strings' ancient ecstasy, 
And while he read, my love-filled heart was 

stung. 
And throbbed, as where an ardent bird has 

clung 
The branches tremble on a blossomed tree. 
Oh lady for whose sake the song was made, 
Laid long ago in some still cypress shade, 
Divided from the man who longed for thee, 
Here in a land whose name he never heard, 
His song brought love as April brings the 
bird, 
And not a breath divides my love from me ! 
[25] 



BROADWAY 

This is the quiet hour; the theaters 

Have gathered in their crowds, and steadily 
The milHon lights blaze on for few to see, 

Robbing the sky of stars that should be hers. 

A woman waits with bag and shabby furs, 
A somber man drifts by, and only we 
Pass up the street unwearied, warm and free. 

For over us the olden magic stirs. 

Beneath the liquid splendor of the lights 
We live a little ere the charm is spent; 

This night is ours, of all the golden nights, 
The pavement an enchanted palace floor. 
And Youth the player on the viol, who sent 
A strain of music thru an open door. 



26] 



A WINTER BLUEJAY 

Crisply the bright snow whispered, 

Crunching beneath our feet; 

Behind us as we walked along the parkway, 

Our shadows danced. 

Fantastic shapes in vivid blue. 

Across the lake the skaters 

Flew to and fro. 

With sharp turns weaving 

A frail invisible net. 

In ecstasy the earth 

Drank the silver sunlight; 

In ecstasy the skaters 

Drank the wine of speed; 

In ecstasy we laughed 

Drinking the wine of love. 

Had not the music of our joy 

Sounded its highest note? 

But no, 

[27] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

For suddenly, with lifted eyes you said, 

"Oh look!" 

There, on the black bough of a snow flecked 

maple, 
Fearless and gay as our love, 
A bluejay cocked his crest ! 
Oh who can tell the range of joy 
Or set the bounds of beauty? 



[28 



IN A RESTAURANT 

The darkened street was muffled with the snow, 
The falHng flakes had made your shoulders 

white, 
And when we found a shelter from the night 
Its glamor fell upon us like a blow. 
The clash of dishes and the viol and bow 
Mingled beneath the fever of the light. 
The heat was full of savors, and the bright 
Laughter of women lured the wine to flow. 
A little child ate nothing while she sat 
Watching a woman at a table there 
Lean to a kiss beneath a drooping hat. 

The hour went by, we rose and turned to go, 
The somber street received us from the glare. 
And once more on your shoulders fell the 
snow. 



[29] 



/ 



JOY 

I AM wild, I will sing to the trees, 
I will sing to the stars in the sky, 

I love, I am loved, he is mine. 
Now at last I can die ! 

I am sandaled with wind and with flame, 
I have heart-fire and singing to give, 

I can tread on the grass or the stars, 
Now at last I can live ! 



[30] 



Jr 



IN A RAILROAD STATION 

We stood in the shrill electric light, 
Dumb and sick in the whirling din — 

We who had all of love to say 
And a single second to say it in. 

"Good-by!" " Good-by ! " — you turned to 

go, 
I felt the train's slow heavy start, — 
You thought to see me cry, but oh 
My tears were hidden in my heart. 



[31 



IN THE TRAIN 

Fields beneath a quilt of snow 

From which the rocks and stubble peep, 
And in the west a shy white star 

That shivers as it wakes from sleep. 

The restless rumble of the train, 
The drowsy people in the car. 

Steel blue twilight in the world. 
And in my heart a timid star. 



[32] 



' TO ONE AWAY 

I HEARD a cry in the night, 
A thousand miles it came, 

Sharp as a flash of Hght, 
My name, my name I 

It was your voice I heard, 
You waked and loved me so 

I send you back this word, 
I know, I know ! 



33] 



SONG 

Love me with your whole heart 
V Or give no love to me, 



Half-love is a poor thing, 
Neither bond nor free. 



You must love me gladly 

Soul and body too, 
Or else find a new love, 
^' And good-by to you. 



34] 



DEEP IN THE NIGHT ^^ 

Deep in the night the cry of a swallow. 

Under the stars he flew, 
Keen as pain was his call to follow 

Over the world to you. 

Love in my heart is a cry forever 

Lost as the swallow's flight, 
Seeking for you and never, never 

Stilled by the stars at night. 



[35] 



THE INDIA WHARF 

Here in the velvet stillness 

The wide sown fields fall to the faint horizon, 

Sleeping in starlight. ... 

A year ago we walked in the jangling city 
Together . . . . forgetful. 
One by one we crossed the avenues, 
Rivers of light, roaring in tumult. 
And came to the narrow, knotted streets. 
Thru the tense crowd 

We went aloof, ecstatic, walking in wonder, 
Unconscious of our motion. 
Forever the foreign people with dark, deep- 
seeing eyes 
Passed us and passed. 
Lights and foreign words and foreign faces, 
I forgot them all ; 

[361 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

I only felt alive, defiant of all death and sorrow, 
Sure and elated. 

That was the gift you gave me. ... 

The streets grew still more tangled, 

And led at last to water black and glossy, 

Flecked here and there with lights, faint and 

far off. 
There on a shabby building was a sign 
"The India Wharf" . . . and we turned back. 

I always felt we could have taken ship 

And crossed the bright green seas 

To dreaming cities set on sacred streams 

And palaces 

Of ivory and scarlet. 



37 






Nj 



I SHALL NOT CARE 

When I am dead and over me bright April 
Shakes out her rain-drenched hair, 

Tho' you should lean above me broken-hearted, 
I shall not care. 

I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful 
When rain bends down the bough. 

And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted 
Than you are now. 



[38] 



DESERT POOLS 

I LOVE too much; I am a river 
Surging with spring that seeks the sea, 

I am too generous a giver, 

Love will not stoop to drink of me. 

His feet will turn to desert places 
Shadowless, reft of rain and dew. 

Where stars stare down with sharpened faces 
From heavens pitilessly blue. 

And there at midnight sick with faring. 
He will stoop down in his desire 

To slake the thirst grown past all bearing 
In stagnant water keen as fire. 



[39] 



\] 



LONGING 

I AM not sorry for my soul 
That it must go unsatisfied, 

For it can live a thousand times. 
Eternity is deep and wide. 

I am not sorry for my soul, 
But oh, my body that must go 

Back to a little drift of dust 
Without the joy it longed to k^ow. 



[40] 



PITY 

They never saw my lover's face, 
They only know our love was brief, 

Wearing awhile a windy grace 
And passing like an autumn leaf. 

They wonder why I do not weep, 

They think it strange that I can sing. 

They say, "Her love was scarcely deep 
Since it has left so slight a sting." 

They never saw my love, nor knew 
That in my heart's most secret place 

I pity them as angels do 
Men who have never seen God's face. 



[41] 



AFTER PARTING 

Oh I have sown my love so wide 
That he will find it everywhere; 

It will awake him in the night, 
It will enfold him in the air. 

I set my shadow in his sight 
And I have winged it with desire, 

That it may be a cloud by day 
And in the night a shaft of fire. 



[42] 



/ 



ENOUGH 

It is enough for me by day 

To walk the same bright earth with him ; 
Enough that over us by night 

The same great roof of stars is dim. 

I have no care to bind the wind 

Or set a fetter on the sea — 
It is enough to feel his love 

Blow by like music over me. 



[43] 



ALCHEMY ) 

I LIFT my heart as spring lifts up 
A yellow daisy to the rain; 

My heart will be a lovely cup 
Altho' it holds but pain. 

For I shall learn from flower and leaf 
That color every drop they hold, 

To change the lifeless wine of grief 
To living gold. 



[44] 



FEBRUARY 

They spoke of him I love 
With cruel words and gay; 

My lips kept silent guard 
On all I could not say. 

I heard, and down the street 
The lonely trees in the square 

Stood in the /winter wind 
Patient and bare. 

I heard ... oh voiceless trees 
Under the wind, I knew 

The eager terrible spring 
Hidden in you. 



45 



MORNING 

I WENT out on an April morning 
All alone, for my heart was high, 

I was a child of the shining meadow, 
I was a sister of the sky. 

There in the windy flood of morning 
Longing lifted its weight from me, 

Lost as a sob in the midst of cheering. 
Swept as a sea-bird out to sea. 



[46] 



MAY NIGHT 

The spring is fresh and fearless 

And every leaf is new, 
The world is brimmed with moonlight, 

The lilac brimmed with dew. 

Here in the moving shadows 
I catch my breath and sing — 

My heart is fresh and fearless 
And over-brimmed with spring. 



I 47]- 



DUSK IN JUNE 

Evening, and all the birds 
In a chorus of shimmering sound 

Are easing their hearts of joy 
For miles around. 

The air is blue and sweet, 
The few first stars are white, — 

Oh let me like the birds 
Sing before night. 



[48] 



v^ 



LOVE-FREE 

I AM free of love as a bird flying south in the 

autumn, 
Swift and intent, asking no joy from another, 
Glad to forget all of the passion of April 
Ere it was love-free. 

I am free of love, and I listen to music lightly. 
But if he returned, if he should look at me deeply, 
I should awake, I should awake and remember 
I am my lover's. 



[49] a/ 



SUMMER NIGHT, RIVERSIDE 

In the wild soft summer darkness 

How many and many a night we two together 

Sat in the park and watched the Hudson 

Wearing her lights like golden spangles 

Glinting on black satin. 

The rail along the curving pathway 

Was low in a happy place to let us cross, 

And down the hill a tree that dripped with bloom 

Sheltered us 

While your kisses and the flowers, 

Falling, falling, 

Tangled my hair. . . . 

The frail white stars moved slowly over the sky. 

And now, far off 

In the fragrant darkness 

The tree is tremulous again with bloom 

For June comes back. 

[50] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

To-night what girl 

When she goes home. 

Dreamily before her mirror shakes from her 

hair 
This year's blossoms, clinging in its coils? 



[51] 



IN A SUBWAY STATION 

After a year I came again to the place; 

The tireless lights and the reverberation, 

The angry thunder of trains that burrow the ground, 

The hunted, hurrying people were still the same — 

But oh, another man beside me and not you ! 

Another voice and other eyes in mine ! 

And suddenly I turned and saw again 

The gleaming curve of tracks, the bridge above — 

They were burned deep into my heart before, 

The night I watched them to avoid your eyes. 

When you were saying, "Oh, look up at me!" 

When you were saying, "Will you never love me?" 

And when I answered with a lie. Oh then 

You dropped your eyes. I felt your utter pain. 

I would have died to say the truth to you. 
****** 
After a year I came again to the place — 
The hunted hurrying people were still the same. . . . 

[52 1 



AFTER LOVE 

There is no magic when we meet. 
We speak as other people do, 

You work no miracle for me 
Nor I for you. 

You were the wind and I the sea — 
There is no splendor any more, 

I have grown listless as the pool 
Beside the shore. 

But tho' the pool is safe from storm 
And from the tide has found surcease. 

It grows more bitter than the sea, 
For all its peace. 



53] 



J 



DOORYARD ROSES 

I HAVE come the selfsame path 

To the selfsame door, 
Years have left the roses there 

Burning as before. 

While I watch them in the wind 
Quick the hot tears start — 

Strange so frail a flame outlasts 
Fire in the heart. 



54] 



A PRAYER 

Until I lose my soul and lie 
Blind to the beauty of the earth, 

Deaf tho' a lyric wind goes by, 
Dumb in a storm of mirth; 

Until my heart is quenched at length 
And I have left the land of men, 

Oh let me love with all my strength 
Careless if I am loved again. 



H 



[55] 



II 



INDIAN SUMMER 

Lyric night of the Hngering Indian Summer, 
Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of sing- 
ing, 
Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects. 
Ceaseless, insistent. 

The grasshopper's horn, and far off, high in the 

maples 
The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence, 
Under a moon waning and worn and broken, 
Tired with summer. 

Let me remember you, voices of little insects. 
Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled 

with asters, 
Let me remember you, soon will the winter be on 
us, 

Snow-hushed and heartless. 
[59] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Over my soul murmur your mute benediction 
While I gaze, oh fields that rest after harvest, 
As those who part look long in the eyes they lean 
to, 

Lest they forget them. 



60 



THE SEA WIND 

I AM a pool in a peaceful place, 

I greet the great sky face to face, 

I know the stars and the stately moon 

And the wind that runs with rippling shoon — 

But why does it always bring to me 

The far-off, beautiful sound of the sea? 

The marsh-grass weaves me a wall of green, 
But the wind comes whispering in between, 
In the dead of night when the sky is deep 
The wind comes waking me out of sleep -— 
Why does it always bring to me 
The far-off, terrible call of the sea? 



[61] 



THE CLOUD 

I AM a cloud in the heaven's height, 

The stars are lit for my delight, 

Tireless and changeful, swift and free, 

I cast my shadow on hill and sea — 

But why do the pines on the mountain's crest 

Call to me always, "Rest, rest"? 

I throw my mantle over the moon 
And I blind the sun on his throne at noon, 
Nothing can tame me, nothing can bind, 
I am a child of the heartless wind — 
But oh the pines on the mountain's crest 
Whispering always, "Rest, rest." 



[62] 



THE POOR HOUSE 

Hope went by and Peace went by 

And would not enter in; 
Youth went by and Health went by 

And Love that is their kin. 

Those within the house shed tears 

On their bitter bread; 
Some were old and some were mad. 

And some were sick a-bed. 

Gray Death saw the wretched house 
And even he passed by — 

"They have never lived," he said, 
"They can wait to die/' 



[63] 



NEW YEAR'S DAWN — BROADWAY 

When the horns wear thin 
And the noise, like a garment outworn. 
Falls from the night, 
The tattered and shivering night, 
That thinks she is gay; 
When the patient silence comes back, 
And retires. 
And returns, 

Rebuffed by a ribald song. 
Wounded by vehement cries. 
Fleeing again to the stars — 
Ashamed of her sister the night; 
Oh, then they steal home. 
The blinded, the pitiful ones 
With their gew-gaws still in their hands. 
Reeling with odorous breath 
And thick, coarse words on their tongues. 
They get them to bed, somehow, 
[64] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

And sleep the forgiving, 

Comes thru the scattering tumult 

And closes their eyes. 

The stars sink down ashamed 

And the dawn awakes, 

Like a youth who steals from a brothel, 

Dizzy and sick. 



[65 



THE STAR 

A WHITE star born in the evening glow 
Looked to the round green world below, 
And saw a pool in a wooded place 
That held like a jewel her mirrored face. 
She said to the pool : " Oh, wondrous deep, 
I love you, I give you my light to keep. 
Oh, more profound than the moving sea 
That never has shown myself to me! 
Oh, fathomless as the sky is far. 
Hold forever your tremulous star ! " 

But out of the woods as night grew cool 
A brown pig came to the little pool; 
It grunted and splashed and waded in 
And the deepest place but reached its chin. 
The water gurgled with tender glee 
And the mud churned up in it turbidly. 

The star grew pale and hid her face 
In a bit of floating cloud like lace. 
[66] 



DOCTORS 

Every night I lie awake 

And every day I lie abed 
And hear the doctors, Pain and Death, 

Conferring at my head. 

They speak in scientific tones, 

ProfessionaJ and low — 
One argues for a speedy cure, 

The other, sure and slow. 

To one so humble as myself 

It should be matter for some pride 

To have such noted fellows here, 
Conferring at my side. 



[67] 



THE INN OF EARTH 

I CAME to the crowded Inn of Earth, 
And called for a cup of wine, 

But the Host went by with averted eye 
From a thirst as keen as mine. 

Then I sat down with weariness 

And asked a bit of bread. 
But the Host went by with averted eye 

And never* a word he said. 

While always from the outer night 

The waiting souls came in 
With stifled cries of sharp surprise 

At all the light and din. 

"Then give me a bed to sleep," I said, 
"For midnight comes apace" — 

But the Host went by with averted eye 
And I never saw his face. 

[68] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA. 

"Since there is neither food nor rest, 
I go where I fared before" — 

But the Host went by with averted eye 
And barred the outer door. 



69 



IN THE CARPENTER'S SHOP 

Mary sat in the corner dreaming, 

Dim was the room and low, 
While in the dusk, the saw went screaming 
To and fro. 

Jesus and Joseph toiled together, 

Mary was watching them. 
Thinking of kings in the wintry weather 
At Bethlehem. 

Mary sat in the corner thinking, 

Jesus had grown a man; 
One by one her hopes were sinking 
As the years ran. 

Jesus and Joseph toiled together, 

Mary's thoughts were far — 
Angels sang in the wintry weather 
Under a star. 

[70] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Mary sat in the corner weeping, 

Bitter and hot her tears — 
Little faith were the angels keeping 
All the years. 



71 



THE CARPENTER'S SON 

The summer dawn came over-soon, 
The earth was like hot iron at noon 

In Nazareth; 
There fell no rain to ease the heat, 
And dusk drew on with tired feet 

And stifled breath. 

The shop was low and hot and square, 
And fresh-cut wood made sharp the air, 

While all day long 
The saw went tearing thru the oak 
That moaned as tho' the tree's heart broke 

Beneath its wrong. 

The narrow street was full of cries, 
Of bickering and snarling lies 
In many keys — 
[72] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

The tongues of Egypt and of Rome 
And lands beyond the shifting foam 
Of windy seas. 

Sometimes a ruler riding fast 
Scattered the dark crowds as he passed, 

And drove them close 
In doorways, drawing broken breath 
Lest they be trampled to their death 

Where the dust rose. 

There in the gathering night and noise 
A group of Galilean boys 

Crowding to see 
Gray Joseph toiling with his son, 
Saw Jesus, when the task was done, 

Turn wearily. 

He passed them by with hurried tread 
Silently, nor raised his head, 
He who looked up 
[ 73 1 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Drinking all beauty from his birth 

Out of the heaven and the earth 

As from a cup. 

And Mary, who was growing old, 
Knew that the pottage would be cold 

When he returned; 
He hungered only for the night. 
And westward, bending sharp and bright, 

The thin moon burned. 

He reached the open western gate 
Where whining halt and leper wait. 

And came at last 
To the blue desert, where the deep 
Great seas of twilight lay asleep, 

Windless and vast. 

With shining eyes the stars awoke, 
The dew lay heavy on his cloak, 
The world was dim; 
[ 74 ] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

And in the stillness he could hear 
His secret thoughts draw very near 
And call to him. 

Faint voices lifted shrill with pain 
And multitudinous as rain; 

From all the lands 
And all the villages thereof 
Men crying for the gift of love 

With outstretched hands. 

Voices that called with ceaseless crying. 
The broken and the blind, the dying, 

And those grown dumb 
Beneath oppression, and he heard 
Upon their lips a single word, 

"Come!" 

Their cries engulfed him like the night. 
The moon put out her placid light 
And black and low 
[75 1 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Nearer the heavy thunder drew, 
Hushing the voices . . . yet he knew 
That he would go. 

:i: :i: * * * * 

A quick-spun thread of Ughtning burns, 
And for a flash the day returns — 

He only hears 
Joseph, an old man bent and white 
Toiling alone from morn till night 

Thru all the years. 

Swift clouds make all the heavens blind, 
A storm is running on the wind — 

He only sees 
How Mary will stretch out her hands 
Sobbing, who never understands 

Voices like these. 



[76] 



THE MOTHER OF A POET 

She is too kind, I think, for mortal things, 
Too gentle for the gusty ways of earth; 
God gave to her a shy and silver mirth, 
And made her soul as clear 
And softly singing as an orchard spring's 
In sheltered hollows all the sunny year — 
A spring that thru the leaning grass looks up 
And holds all heaven in its clarid cup. 
Mirror to holy meadows high and blue 
With stars like drops of dew. 

I love to think that never tears at night 
Have made her eyes less bright; 
That all her girlhood thru 
Never a cry of love made over-tense 
Her voice's innocence; 
That in her hands have lain, 
Flowers beaten by the rain, 
[77] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

And little birds before they learned to sing 
Drowned in the sudden ecstasy of spring. 

I love to think that with a wistful wonder 

She held her baby warm against her breast; 

That never any fear awoke whereunder 

She shuddered at her gift, or trembled lest 

Thru the great doors of birth 

Here to a windy earth 

She lured from heaven a half-unwilling .guest. 

She caught and kept his first vague flickering smile, 
The faint upleaping of his spirit's fire; 
And for a long sweet while 
In her was all he asked of earth or heaven — 
But in the end how far, 
Past every shaken star, 
Should leap at last that arrow-like desire. 
His full-grown manhood's keen 
Ardor toward the unseen 
Dark mystery beyond the Pleiads seven. 
[78] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

And in her heart she heard 

His first dim-spoken word — 

She only of them all could understand, 

Flushing to feel at last 

The silence over-past, 

Thrilling as tho' her hand had touched God's hand. 

But in the end how many words 

Winged on a flight she could not follow, 

Farther than skyward lark or swallow, 

His lips should free to lands she never knew; 

Braver than white sea-faring birds 

With a fearless melody, 

Flying over a shining sea, 

A star-white song between the blue and blue. 

Oh I have seen a lake as clear and fair 
As it were molten air. 
Lifting a lily upward to the sun. 
How should the water know the glowing heart 
That ever to the heaven lifts its fire, 
[79] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

A golden and unchangeable desire? 
The water only knows 
The faint and rosy glows 
Of under-petals, opening apart. 
Yet in the soul of earth, 
Deep in the primal ground, 
Its searching roots are wound, 
And centuries have struggled toward its birth. 
So, in the man who sings. 
All of the voiceless horde 
From the cold dawn of things 
Have their reward; 
All in whose pulses ran 
Blood that is his at last, 
From the first stooping man 
Far in the winnowed past. 
Out of the tumult of their love and mating 
Each one created, seeing life was good — 
Dumb, till at last the song that they were waiting 
Breaks like brave April thru a wintry wood. 
[80 1 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

But what of her whose heart is troubled by it, 
The mother who would soothe and set him free, 
Fearing the song's storm-shaken ecstasy — 
Oh, as the moon that has no power to quiet 
The strong wind-driven sea. 



[81] 



IN MEMORIAM F. O. S. 

You go a long and lovely journey. 
For all the stars, like burning dew, 

Are luminous and luring footprints 
Of souls adventurous as you. 

Oh, if you lived on earth elated, 
How is it now that you can run 

Free of the weight of flesh and faring 
Far past the birthplace of the sun? 



82] 



TWILIGHT 

The stately tragedy of dusk 
Drew to its perfect close, 

The virginal white evening star 
Sank, and the red moon rose. 



[83] 






SWALLOW FLIGHT 

I LOVE my hour of wind and light, 
I love men's faces and their eyes, 

I love my spirit's veering flight 
Like swallows under evening skies. 



[84] 



H 



THOUGHTS 

When I can make my thoughts come forth 
To walk Uke ladies up and down, 

Each one puts on before the glass 
Her most becoming hat and gown. 

But oh, the shy and eager thoughts 
That hide and will not get them dressed, 

Why is it that they always seem 
So much more lovely than the rest? 



S5 



TO DICK, ON HIS SIXTH BIRTHDAY 

Tho' I am very old and wise, 

And you are neither wise nor old, 
When I look far into your eyes, 

I know things I was never told : 
I know how flame must strain and fret 
Prisoned in a mortal net; 
How joy with over-eager wings. 
Bruises the small heart where he sings; 
How too much life, like too much gold, 
Is sometimes very hard to hold. . . . 
All that is talking — but I know 
This much is true, six years ago 
An angel living near the moon 
Walked thru the sky and sang a tune 
Plucking stars to make his crown — 
And suddenly two stars fell down, 
Two falling arrows made of light. 
Six years ago this very night ' 
[86] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

I saw them fall and wondered why 
The angel dropped them from the sky 
But when I saw your eyes I knew 
The angel sent the stars to you. 



[87] 



TO ROSE 

Rose, when I remember you, 
Little lady, scarcely two, 
I am suddenly aware 
Of the angels in the air. 
All your softly gracious ways 
Make an island in my days 
Where my thoughts fly back to be 
Sheltered from too strong a sea. 
All your luminous delight 
Shines before me in the night 
When I grope for sleep and find 
Only shadows in my mind. 

Rose, when I remember you, 
White and glowing, pink and new, 
With so swift a sense of fun 
Altho' life has just begun; 
[88] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

With so sure a pride of place 
In your very infant face, 
I should like to make a prayer 
To the angels in the air: 
"If an angel ever brings 
Me a baby in her wings. 
Please be certain that it grows 
Very, very much like Rose." 



[89] 



THE FOUNTAIN 

Oh in the deep blue night 

The fountain sang alone; 
It sang to the drowsy heart 

Of the satyr carved in stone. 

The fountain sang and sang 
But the satyr never stirred — 

Only the great white moon 
In the empty heaven heard. 

The fountain sang and sang 

And on the marble rim 
The milk-white peacocks slept, 

Their dreams were strange and dim. 

Bright dew was on the grass, 

And on the ilex dew, 
The dreamy milk-white birds 

Were all a-glisten too. 
[90] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

The fountain sang and sang 
The things one cannot tell, 

The dreaming peacocks stirred 
And the gleaming dew-drops fell. 



[91] 



THE ROSE 

Beneath my chamber window 
Pierrot was singing, singing; 
I heard his lute the whole night thru 
Until the east was red. 
Alas, alas, Pierrot, 
I had no rose for flinging 

Save one that drank my tears for dew 
Before its leaves were dead. 

I fomid it in the darkness, 
I kissed it once and threw it, 
The petals scattered over him. 
His song was turned to joy; 
And he will never know — 
Alas, the one who knew it ! — 
The rose was plucked when dusk was dim 
Beside a laughing boy. 

[92] 



\ 



DREAMS 

I GAVE my life to another lover, 
I gave my love, and all, and all — 

But over a dream the past will hover, 
Out of a dream the past will call. 

I tear myself from sleep with a shiver 
But on my breast a kiss is hot, 

And by my bed the ghostly giver 
Is waiting tho' I see him not. 



4 



93] 



"I AM NOT YOURS" 

I AM not yours, not lost in you. 
Not lost, altho' I long to be 

Lost as a candle lit at noon. 
Lost as a snow-flake in the sea. 

You love me, and I find you still 
A spirit beautiful and bright, 

Yet I am I, who long to be 
Lost as a light is lost in light. 

Oh plunge me deep in love — put out 
My senses, leave me deaf and blind, 

Swept by the tempest of your love, 
A taper in a rushing wind. 



94 



PIERROT'S SONG 
(For a picture by Dugald Walker) 

Lady, light in the east hangs low, 
Draw your veils of dream apart. 

Under the casement stands Pierrot 
Making a song to ease his heart. 

(Yet do not break the song too soon — 
I love to sing in the paling moon.) 

The petals are falling, heavy with dew, 
The stars have fainted out of the sky, 

Come to me, come, or else I too, 

Faint with the weight of love will die. 

(She comes — alas, I hoped to make 
Another stanza for her sake !) 



[95] 



NIGHT IN ARIZONA 

The moon is a charring ember 

Dying into the dark; 
Off in the crouching mountains 
Coyotes bark. 

The stars are heavy in heaven, 
Too great for the sky to hold 
What if they fell and shattered 
The earth with gold? 

No lights are over the mesa, 
The wind is hard and wild, 
I stand at the darkened window 
And cry like a child. 



[9»] 



DUSK IN WAR TIME 

A HALF-HOUR more and you will lean 
To gather me close in the old sweet way — 

But oh, to the woman over the sea 
Who will come at the close of day? 

A half-hour more and I will hear 

The key in the latch and the strong quick 
tread — 
But oh, the woman over the sea 

Waiting at dusk for one who is dead I 



[97] 



SPRING IN WAR TIME 

I FEEL the Spring far off, far off, 
The faint far scent of bud and leaf — 

Oh how can Spring take heart to come 
To a world in grief, 
Deep grief? 

The sun turns north, the days grow long, 
Later the evening star grows bright — 

How can the daylight linger on 
For men to fight, 
Still fight? 

The grass is waking in the ground. 
Soon it will rise and blow in waves — 

How can it have the heart to sway 
Over the graves. 

New graves? 

[98] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Under the boughs where lovers walked 
The apple-blooms will shed theu* breath 

But what of all the lovers now 
Parted by death. 
Gray Death? 



99 



WHILE I MAY 

Wjnd and hail and veering rain, 
Driven mist that veils the day. 

Soul's distress and body's pain, 
I would bear you while I mayo 

I would love you if I might, 
For so soon my life will be 

Buried in a lasting night, 
Even pain denied to me. 



[100] 



vc 



DEBT 

What do I owe to you |\ at x^y 

Who loved me deep and long? 
You never gave my spirit wings 

Or gave my heart a song. 

But oh, to him I loved 

Who loved me not at all, 
I owe the little open gate 

That led thru heaven's wall. 



101] ^ 



FROM THE NORTH 

The northern woods are delicately sweet. 
The lake is folded softly by the shore, 
But I am restless for the subway's roar, 

The thunder and the hurrying of feet. 

I try to sleep, but still my eyelids beat 
Against the image of the tower that bore 
Me high aloft, as if thru heaven's door 

I watched the world from God's unshaken seat. 

I would go back and breathe with quickened sense 
The tunnel's strong hot breath of powdered 
steel ; 

But at the ferries I should leave the tense 

Dark air behind, and I should mount and be 
One among many who are thrilled to feel 
The first keen sea-breath from the open sea. 



[102] 



THE LIGHTS OF NEW YORK 

The lightning spun your garment for the night 
Of silver filaments with fire shot thru, 
A broidery of lamps that lit for you 

The steadfast splendor of enduring light. 

The moon drifts dimly in the heaven's height. 
Watching with wonder how the earth she knew 
That lay so long wrapped deep in dark and dew. 

Should wear upon her breast a star so white. 

The festivals of Babylon were dark 
With flaring flambeaux that the wind blew 
down ; 

The Saturnalia were a wild boy's lark 
With rain-quenched torches dripping thru the 
town — 

But you have found a god and filched from him 

A fire that neither wind nor rain can dim. 



[103] 



SEA LONGING 

A THOUSAND miles beyond this sun-steeped wall 
Somewhere the waves creep cool along the sand, 
The ebbing tide forsakes the listless land 

With the old murmur, long and musical; 

The windy waves mount up and curve and fall, 
And round the rocks the foam blows up like 

snow, — 
Tho' I am inland far, I hear and know. 

For I was born the sea's eternal thrall. 

I would that I were there and over me 
The cold insistence of the tide would roll. 
Quenching this burning thing men call the 
soul, — 

Then with the ebbing I should drift and be 
Less than the smallest shell along the shoal, 

Less than the sea-gulls calling to the sea. 



[104] 



THE RIVER 

I CAME from the sunny valleys 
And sought for the open sea, 

For I thought in its gray expanses 
My peace would come to me. 

I came at last to the ocean 
And found it wild and black, 

And I cried to the windless valleys, 
" Be kind and take me back ! " 

But the thirsty tide ran inland, 
And the salt waves drank of me. 

And I who was fresh as the rainfall 
Am bitter as the sea. 



105] 



LEAVES »A 



One by one, like leaves from a tree. 
All my faiths have forsaken me; 
But the stars above my head 
Burn in white and delicate red, 
And beneath my feet the earth 
Brings the sturdy grass to birth. 
I who was content to be 
But a silken-singing tree, 
But a rustle of delight 
In the wistful heart of night — 
I have lost the leaves that knew 
Touch of rain and weight of dew. 
Blinded by a leafy crown 
I looked neither up nor down — 
But the little leaves that die 
Have left me room to see the sky; 
Now for the first time I know 
Stars above and earth below. 
[ 106 ] 



THE ANSWER 

When I go back to earth 
And all my joyous body 
Puts off the red and white 
That once had been so proud, 
If men should pass above 
With false and feeble pity, 
My dust will find a voice 
To answer them aloud: 

"Be still, I am content, 

Take back your poor compassion, 

Joy was a flame in me 

Too steady to destroy; 

Lithe as a bending reed 

Loving the storm that sways her 

I found more joy in sorrow 

Than you could find in joy." 

[107] 



Ill 



OVER THE ROOFS 



Oh chimes set high on the sunny tower 

Ring on, ring on unendingly, 
Make all the hours a single hour, 
For when the dusk begins to flower, 

The man I love will come to me ! . . . 

But no, go slowly as you will, 

I should not bid you hasten so. 
For while I wait for love to come, 
Some other girl is standing dumb. 

Fearing her love will go. 

II 

Oh white steam over the roofs, blow high! 

Oh chimes in the tower ring clear and free ! 
Oh sun awake in the covered sky. 

For the man I love, loves me ! . . . 

ilU] , 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Oh drifting steam disperse and die, 

Oh tower stand shrouded toward the south, 

Fate heard afar my happy cry, 
And laid her finger on my mouth. 

Ill 

The dusk was blue with blowing mist. 
The lights were spangles in a veil. 

And from the clamor far below 
Floated faint music like a wail. 

It voiced what I shall never speak. 
My heart was breaking all night long. 

But when the dawn was hard and gray. 
My tears distilled into a song. 

IV 

I said, "I have shut my heart 

As one shuts an open door. 
That Love may starve therein 

And trouble me no more." 
[112] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

But over the roofs there came 
The wet new wmd of May, 

And a tune blew up from the curb 
Where the street-pianos play. 

My room was white with the sun 
And Love cried out in me, 

"I am strong, I will break your heart 
Unless you set me free." 



113] 



A CRY ^ ^' 

Oh, there are eyes that he can see, 

And hands to make his hands rejoice, 
But to my lover I must be 
Only a voice. 

Oh, there are breasts to bear his head, 

And lips whereon his lips can lie, 
But I must be till I am dead 
Only a cry. 



[114 



^ CHANCE ^^ ^ 

How many times we must have met X/^ 

Here on the street as strangers do, 
Children of chance we were, who passed 

The door of heaven and never knew. 



[115] 



IMMORTAL 

So soon my body will have gone 

Beyond the sound and sight of men, 
And tho' it wakes and suffers now, 

Its sleep will be unbroken then; 
But oh, my frail immortal soul 

That will not sleep forevermore, 
A leaf borne onward by the blast, 

A wave that never finds the shore. 



[116] 



AFTER DEATH 

Now while my lips are living 
Their words must stay unsaid, 

And will my soul remember 
To speak when I am dead? 

Yet if my soul remembered 
You would not heed it, dear, 

For now you must not listen, 
And then you could not hear. 



[117] 



TESTAMENT 

I SAID, "I will take my life 

And throw it away; 
I who was fire and song 

Will turn to clay." 

"I will lie no more in the night 

With shaken breath, 
I will toss my heart in the air 

To be caught by Death," 

But out of the night I heard. 
Like the inland sound of the sea. 

The hushed and terrible sob 
Of all humanity. 

Then I said, "Oh who am I 
To scorn God to his face? 

I will bow my head and stay 
And suffer with my race." 
[118] 



CTITTQ 

\ 



[119] 



v/ 



IV 



^ 



FROM THE SEA 

All beauty calls you to me, and you seem, 
Past twice a thousand miles of shifting sea. 
To reach me. You are as the wind I breathe 
Here on the ship's sun-smitten topmost deck. 
With only light between the heavens and me. 
I feel your spirit and I close my eyes. 
Knowing the bright hair blowing in the sun, 
The eager whisper and the searching eyes. 

*!• •!* •!> •I* •!• ^ 

Listen, I love you. Do not turn your face 
Nor touch me. Only stand and watch awhile 
The blue unbroken circle of the sea. 
Look far away and let me ease my heart 
Of words that beat in it with broken wings. 
Look far away, and if I say too much, 
Forget that I am speaking. Only watch. 
How like a gull that sparkling sinks to rest, 
[ 123 1 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

The foam-crest drifts along a happy wave 
Toward the bright verge, the boundary of the world. 

:K 4: H: H: H: * 

I am so weak a thing, praise me for this, 
That in some strange way I was strong enough 
To keep my love unuttered and to stand 
Altho' I longed to kneel to you that night 
You looked at me with ever-calling eyes. 
Was I not calm? And if you guessed my love 
You thought it something delicate and free, 
Soft as the sound of fir-trees in the wind, 
Fleeting as phosphorescent stars in foam. 
Yet in my heart there was a beating storm 
Bending my thoughts before it, and I strove 
To say too little lest I say too much. 
And from my eyes to drive love's happy shame. 
Yet when I heard your name the first far time 
It seemed like other names to me, and I 
Was all unconscious, as a dreaming river 
That nears at last its long predestined sea; 
[124] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

And when you spoke to me, I did not know 
That to my Ufe's high altar came its priest. 
But now I know between my God and me 
You stand forever, nearer God than I, 
And in your hands with faith and utter joy 
I would that I could lay my woman's soul. 

Oh, my love 

' To whom I cannot come with any gift 
Of body or of soul, I pass and go. 
But sometimes when you hear blown back to you 
My wistful, far-off singing touched with tears, 
Know that I sang for you alone to hear. 
And that I wondered if the wind would bring 
To him who tuned my heart its distant song. 
So might a woman who in loneliness 
Had borne a child, dreaming of days to come. 
Wonder if it would please its father's eyes. 
But long before I ever heard your name. 
Always the undertone's unchanging note 
[125] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

In all my singing had prefigured you, 
Foretold you as a spark foretells a flame. 
Yet I was free as an untethered cloud 
In the great space between the sky and sea, 
And might have blown before the wind of joy 
Like a bright banner woven by the sun. 
I did not know the longing in the night — 
You who have waked me cannot give me sleep. 
All things in all the world can rest, but I, 
Even the smooth brief respite of a wave 
When it gives up its broken crown of foam, 
Even that little rest I may not have. 
And yet all quiet loves of friends, all joy 
In all the piercing beauty of the world 
I would give up — go blind forevermore. 
Rather than have God blot from out my soul 
Remembrance of your voice that said my name. 

^ S|* 3|S 5|* «P V 

For us no starlight stilled the April fields. 
No birds awoke in darkling trees for us, 
[126J 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Yet where we walked the city's street that night 
Felt in our feet the singing fire of spring, 
And in our path we left a trail of light 
Soft as the phosphorescence of the sea 
When night submerges in the vessel's wake 
A heaven of unborn evanescent stars. 



127 



VIGNETTES OVERSEAS 

I 

Off Gibraltar 
Beyond the sleepy hills of Spain, 

The sun goes down in yellow mist. 
The sky is fresh with dewy stars 

Above a sea of amethyst. 

Yet in the city of my love 

High noon burns all the heavens bare — 
For him the happiness of light, 

For me a delicate despair. 

II 

Off Algiers 

Oh give me neither love nor tears. 

Nor dreams that sear the night with fire, 

Go lightly on your pilgrimage 
Unburdened by desire. 
[128] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Forget me for a month, a year, 

But, oh, beloved, think of me 
When unexpected beauty burns 

Like sudden sunlight on the sea. 

Ill 

Naples 

Nisida and Prosida are laughing in the light, 
Capri is a dewy flower lifting into sight, 
Posilipo kneels and looks in the burnished sea, 
Naples crowds her million roofs close as close can 

be; 
Round about the mountain's crest a flag of smoke 

is hung — 
Oh when God made Italy he was gay and young I 

IV 

Capri 

When beauty grows too great to bear 
How shall I ease me of its ache, 
K [ 129 ] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

For beauty more than bitterness 
Makes the heart break. 

Now while I watch the dreaming sea 
With isles like flowers against her breast, 

Only one voice in all the world 
Could give me rest. 

V 

Night Song at Amalfi 

I asked the heaven of stars 
What I should give my love — 

It answered me with silence. 
Silence above. 

I asked the darkened sea 
Down where the fishers go — 

It answered me with silence, 
Silence below. 

Oh, I could give him weeping, 
Or I could give him song — 
[130] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

But how can I give silence 
My whole life long? 

VI 

Ruins of Paestum 

On lowlands where the temples lie 

The marsh-grass mingles with the flowers, 

Only the little songs of birds 
Link the unbroken hours. 

So in the end, above my heart 
Once like the city wild and gay, 

The slow white stars will pass by night, 
The swift brown birds by day. 

VII 

Rome 

Oh for the rising moon 

Over the roofs of Rome, 
And swallows in the dusk 

Circling a darkened dome ! 
[ 131 ] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Oh for the measured dawns 
That pass with folded wings — 

How can I let them go 
With unremembered things? 

VIII 

Florence 

The bells ring over the Arno, 
Midnight, the long, long chime; 

Here in the quivering darkness 
I am afraid of time. 

Oh, gray bells cease your tolling. 
Time takes too much from me, 

And yet to rock and river 
He gives eternity. 

IX 

Villa Serhelloni, Bellaggio 

The fountain shivers lightly in the rain, 
The laurels drip, the fading roses fall, 
[ 132 1 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

The marble satyr plays a mournful strain 
That leaves the rainy fragrance musical. 

Oh dripping laurel, Phoebus sacred tree, 
Would that swift Daphne's lot might come to 
me, 

Then would I still my soul and for an hour 
Change to a laurel in the glancing shower. 

X 

Stresa 

The moon grows out of the hills 

A yellow flower, 
The lake is a dreamy bride 

Who waits her hour. 

Beauty has filled my heart. 

It can hold no more, 
It is full, as the lake is full. 

From shore to shore. 
[133] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

XI 

Hamburg 

The day that I come home, 
What will you find to say, — 

Words as light as foam 

With laughter light as spray? 

Yet say what words you will 
The day that I come home; 

I shall hear the whole deep ocean 
Beating under the foam. 



[134 



V 

SAPPHO 



SAPPHO 

I 

Midnight, and in the darkness not a sound, 

So, with hushed breathing, sleeps the autumn 

night ; 
Only the white immortal stars shall know, 
Here in the house with the low-lintelled door, 
How, for the last time, I have lit the lamp. 
I think you are not wholly careless now. 
Walls that have sheltered me so many an hour, 
Bed that has brought me ecstasy and sleep, 
Floors that have borne me when a gale of joy 
Lifted my soul and made me half a god. 
Farewell! Across the threshold many feet 
Shall pass, but never Sappho's feet again. 
Girls shall come in whom love has made aware 
Of all theu" swaying beauty — they shall sing, 
[137] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

But never Sappho's voice, like golden fire, 
Shall seek for heaven thru your echoing rafters. 
There shall be swallows bringing back the spring 
Over the long blue meadows of the sea. 
And south-wind playing on the reeds of rain, 
But never Sappho's whisper in the night. 
Never her love-cry when the lover comes. 
Farewell! I close the door and make it fast. 

^ i|* ^ ^ ^ ^ 

The little street lies meek beneath the moon. 
Running, as rivers run, to meet the sea. 
I too go seaward and shall not return. 
Oh garlands on the doorposts that I pass, 
Woven of asters and of autumn leaves, 
I make a prayer for you: Cypris be kind, 
That every lover may be given love. 
I shall not hasten lest the paving stones 
Should echo with my sandals and awake 
Those who are warm beneath the cloak of sleep. 
Lest they should rise and see me and should say, 
[138] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

"Whither goes Sappho lonely in the night?" 
Whither goes Sappho? Whither ah men go, 
But they go driven, straining back with fear. 
And Sappho goes as lightly as a leaf 
Blown from brown autumn forests to the sea. 

****** 
Here on the rock Zeus lifted from the waves, 
I shall await the waking of the dawn. 
Lying beneath the weight of dark as one 
Lies breathless, till the lover shall awake. 
And with the sun the sea shall cover me — 
I shall be less than the dissolving foam 
Murmuring and melting on the ebbing tide; 
I shall be less than spindrift, less than shells; 
And yet I shall be greater than the gods, 
For destiny no more can bow my soul 
As rain bows down the watch-fires on the hills. 
Yea, if my soul escape it shall aspire 
To the white heaven as flame that has its will. 
I go not bitterly, not dumb with pain, 
[139] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Not broken by the ache of love — I go 
As one grown tired lies down and hopes to sleep. 
Yet they shall say: "It was for Cercolas; 
She died because she could not bear her love/' 
They shall remember how we used to walk 
Here on the cliff beneath the oleanders 
In the long limpid twilight of the spring, 
Looking toward Lemnos, where the amber sky 
Was pierced with the faint arrow of a star. 
How should they know the wind of a new beauty 
Sweeping my soul had winnowed it with song? 
I have been glad tho' love should come or go, 
Happy as trees that find a wind to sway them, 
Happy again when it has left them rest. 
Others shall say, "Grave Dica wrought her death. 
She would not lift her lips to take a kiss. 
Or ever lift her eyes to take a smile. 
She was a pool the winter paves with ice 
That the wild hunter in the hills must leave 
With thirst unslaked in the brief southward sun." 
[ 140 ] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Ah Dica, it is not for thee I go; 
And not for Phaon, tho' his ship hfts sail 
Here in the windless harbor for the south. 
Oh, darkling deities that guard the Nile, 
Watch over one whose gods are far away. 
Egypt, be kind to him, his eyes are deep — 
Yet they are wrong who say it was for him. 
How should they know that Sappho lived and 

died 
Faithful to love, not faithful to the lover, 
Never transfused and lost in what she loved. 
Never so wholly loving nor at peace. 
I asked for something greater than I found, 
And every time that love has made me weep, 
I have rejoiced that love could be so strong; 
For I have stood apart and watched my soul 
Caught in the gust of passion, as a bird 
With baffled wings against the dusty whirlwind 
Struggles and frees itself to find the sky. 
It is not for a single god I go; 
[ 141 1 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

I have grown weary of the winds of heaven. 
I will not be a reed to hold the sound 
Of whatsoever breath the gods may blow, 
Turning my torment into music for them. 
They gave me life; the gift was bountiful, 
I lived with the swift singing strength of fire, 
Seeking for beauty as a flame for fuel — 
Beauty in all things and in every hour. 
The gods have given life — I gave them song; 
The debt is paid and now I turn to go. 

The breath of dawn blows the stars out like lamps. 

There is a rim of silver on the sea. 

As one grown tired who hopes to sleep, I go. 

II 

Oh Litis, little slave, why will you sleep? 
These long Egyptian noons bend down your head 
Bowed like the yarrow with a yellow bee. 
There, lift your eyes no man has ever kindled, 
[142 1 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Dark eyes that wait like faggots for the fire. 
See how the temple's solid square of shade 
Points north to Lesbos, and the splendid sea 
That you have never seen, oh evening-eyed. 
Yet have you never wondered what the Nile 
Is seeking always, restless and wild with spring 
And no less in the winter, seeking still? 
How shall I tell you? Can you think of fields 
Greater than Gods could till, more blue than 

night 
Sown over with the stars; and delicate 
With filmy nets of foam that come and go? 
It is more cruel and more compassionate 
Than harried earth. It takes with unconcern 
And quick forgetting, rapture of the rain 
And agony of thunder, the moon's white 
Soft-garmented virginity, and then 
The insatiable ardor of the sun. 
And me it took. But there is one more strong, 
Love, that came laughing from the elder seas, 
[143] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

The Cyprian, the mother of the world; 

She gave me love who only asked for death — 

I who had seen much sorrow in men's eyes 

And in my own too sorrowful a fire. 

I was a sister of the stars, and yet 

Shaken with pain; sister of birds and yet 

The wings that bore my soul were very tired. 

I watched the careless spring too many times 

Light her green torches in a hungry wind; 

Too many times I watched them flare, and then 

Fall to forsaken embers in the autumn. 

And I was sick of all things — even song. 

In the dull autumn dawn I turned to death, 

Buried my living body in the sea. 

The strong cold sea that takes and does not 

give — 
But there is one more strong, the Cyprian. 
Litis, to wake from sleep and find your eyes 
Met in their first fresh upward gaze by love, 
Filled with love's happy shame from other eyes, 
[144 1 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Dazzled with tenderness and drowned in light 
As tho' you looked unthinking at the sun, 
Oh Litis, that is joy! But if you came 
Not from the sunny shallow pool of sleep. 
But from the sea of death, the strangling sea 
Of night and nothingness, and waked to find 
Love looking down upon you, glad and still, 
Strange and yet known forever, that is peace. 
So did he lean above me. Not a word 
He spoke; I only heard the morning sea 
Singing against his happy ship, the keen 
And straining joy of wind-awakened sails 
And songs of mariners, and in myself 
The precious pain of arms that held me fast. 
They warmed the cold sea out of all my blood; 
I slept, feeling his eyes above my sleep. 
There on the ship with wines and olives laden, 
Led by the stars to far invisible ports, 
Egypt and islands of the inner seas, 
Love came to me, and Cercolas was love. 
L [ 145 ] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

nil 

The twilight's inner flame grows blue and deep, 
And in my Lesbos, over leagues of sea. 
The temples glimmer moon-wise in the trees. 
Twilight has veiled the little flower-face 
Here on my heart, but still the night is kind 
And leaves her warm sweet weight against my breast. 
Am I that Sappho who would run at dusk 
Along the surges creeping up the shore 
When tides came in to ease the hungry beach. 
And running, running till the night was black, 
Would fall forespent upon the chilly sand 
And quiver with the winds from off the sea? 
Ah quietly the shingle waits the tides 
Whose waves are stinging kisses, but to me 
Love brought no peace, nor darkness any rest. 
I crept and touched the foam with feVered hands 
And cried to Love, from whom the sea is sv/eet. 
From whom the sea is bitterer than death. 
* From " Helen of Troy and Other Poems." 
[146 1 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

Ah, Aphrodite, if I sing no more 
To thee, God's daughter, powerful as God, 
It is that thou hast made my life too sweet 
To hold the added sweetness of a song. 
There is a quiet at the heart of love, 
And I have pierced the pain and come to peace. 
I hold my peace, my Cleis, on my heart; 
And softer than a little wild bird's wing 
Are kisses that she pours upon my mouth. 
Ah never any more when spring like fire 
Will flicker in the newly opened leaves. 
Shall I steal forth to seek for solitude 
Beyond the lure of light Alcseus' lyre, 
Beyond the sob that stilled Erinna's voice. 
Ah, never with a throat that aches with song. 
Beneath the white uncaring sky of spring. 
Shall I go forth to hide awhile from Love 
The quiver and the crying of my heart. 
Still I remember how I strove to flee 
The love-note of the birds, and bowed my head 
[147] 



RIVERS TO THE SEA 

To hurry faster, but upon the ground 
I saw two winged shadows side by side, 
And all the world's spring passion stifled me. 
Ah, Love there is no fleeing from thy might, 
No lonely place where thou hast never trod, 
No desert thou hast left uncarpeted 
With flowers that spring beneath thy perfect feet. 
In many guises didst thou come to me; 
I saw thee by the maidens while they danced, 
Phaon allured me with a look of thine. 
In Anactoria I knew thy grace, 
I looked at Cercolas and saw thine eyes; 
But never wholly, soul and body mine. 
Didst thou bid any love me as I loved. 
Now have I found the peace that fled from me; 
Close, close against my heart I hold my world. 
Ah, Love that made my life a lyric cry, 
Ah, Love that tuned my lips to lyres of thine, 
I taught the world thy music, now alone 
I sing for one who falls asleep to hear. 
[148] 

Printed in the United States of America. 



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